Has UK lifted restrictions on electronics in flight?

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Sometime last year, the United Kingdom Department for Transport imposed a ban on laptops and other electronic items in the aircraft cabin on flights originating in the UK. This created the absurd situation that you could carry your laptop or iPod with you in the cabin for the flight from the US to the UK but had to pack them in your checked baggage for the trip back home. At one point you could only carry your travel documents in a transparent pouch -- no handbags, nothing in your pockets.

I was thinking about this again today when I booked a domestic business flight online and found the following alert on my Travelocity itinerary page:

Travel within and from the United Kingdom:
  • If you are traveling within the UK, or if you are departing the UK for another international destination, you must check ALL of your belongings. Wallets, IDs, and necessary medications are exceptions; these essential items must be carried in a plastic bag (clear bags are recommended).
  • Electronic items are not permitted on board any aircraft. Electronic items include laptops, mobile phones, and iPods.

In trying to find out whether the policy is still in effect, I found plenty of comment (nearly all negative) on the ban when it was enacted, but I had a hard time finding anything indicating whether the ban is still in effect, or if there are any plans for changing the policy.

I did find this airport security page on the UK Department for Transport website, which appears to be authoritative. The rules, regarding carry-ons, electronics, and liquids seem to be only slightly more restrictive than the rules in the US. The only reference to electronics is that large items like laptops have to be removed from carry-on luggage and screened separately. No hint of a ban, and no reference to the lifting of a ban.

So were the restrictions lifted, and if so, when?

UPDATE: Here we go:

Home Office (roughly equivalent to our Justice Department) press release from August 14, 2006:

Passengers are now allowed to carry one item of cabin baggage through the airport security search point.

The dimensions of this item must not exceed a maximum length of 45cm, width of 35cm and depth of 16cm (17.7"×13.7"×6.2" approx) including wheels, handles, side pockets, etc.

Other bags, such as handbags, may be carried within the single item of cabin baggage. All items carried by passengers will be screened by X-ray....

All laptops and large electrical items (eg, large hairdryer) must be removed from the bag and placed in a tray, so that when the cabin baggage is x-ray screened, these items neither obscure nor are obscured by the bag.

And this from September 21, 2006:

Starting this Friday, 22 September, larger bags will again be allowed into airplane cabins, the Department for Transport announced today.

Currently, passengers boarding flights in the UK are limited to one item of carry-on luggage, with dimensions no more than 45cm by 35cm by 16cm. Starting Friday, passengers will still be allowed to carry only one item of luggage into the cabin of the aircraft, but it can be bigger, as limits are being raised to 56cm by 45cm by 25cm (including wheels, handles and side pockets).

It's odd that I can't find any reference to the changes in the press release section of the DfT website.

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1 Comments

Bhide the Hague said:

When in doubt, try the British Airways website. They are usually very up to date as they travel both to the US and Europe among other places. One glitch we ran into in December/January was if you purchased Duty free items while in Europe/UK when heading back to the US the 100ml bottle wasn't an issue (as it is in a sealed bag at purchase) unless you needed to travel further than the 'port of entry'. For example if you left London with a bottle of perfume from a duty free shop, and you landed at Chicago (port of entry) and were staying there, you were fine. If, however, you live in Tulsa, and needed to take a domestic flight from ORD to TUL, you would NOT be allowed to take it unless you could check it in a piece of luggage--which most people cannot as their luggage would have been checked through from London to Tulsa. We almost lost a bottle of very nice Scottish whiskey that way. Luckily we had a tote that was carrying mainly jackets that had room for it and it was quickly checked in.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 23, 2007 4:20 PM.

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